Galicia mussel industry slams Chile
By Chris Dove, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain
29 August, 2012
Citing an unlevel playing field, the president of the Regulatory Council of Galician Mussel, Francisco Alcalde, has lashed out at the elimination of tariffs on frozen mussels from Chile as the root cause of the collapse of Galicia’s industry.
Since customs tolls were removed from mussel imports in 2007, Galicia’s mussel sales have plummeted, showing the dramatic impact in 2008 when its mussel sales were 188 million kilograms compared with Chile’s 187 million kilograms. In 2006, prior to the tariff removal, Galicia sold 298 million kilograms compared to Chile’s 127 million kilograms.
In 2008, Alcalde claimed that Galician demand for frozen and canned mussels have been affected by the oversupply of Chilean mussels, citing “systematic irregularities in the labeling of foreign mussels, especially from Chile” which has reached chronic levels due to the lack of controls and the passive attitude of European authorities.
Taking his complaint to the European Commission Fisheries Committee in Brussels last week, Alcalde met with Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki and requested amendments to regulations on the packaging of mollusks, arguing that “we do not oppose foreign mussels, but they must comply with the rules of the game.”
Alcalde explained that “the situation is so critical that if the government does not act quickly to deliver on its commitments, the Regulatory Council will use all means at its disposal, including legal. Brussels is currently deciding the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy for the next six years.”
There’s a lot at stake for the Galician mussel industry, which is based on some 3,337 mussel rafts and directly employs 11,500 people.
The processing and canning sector represents 80 percent of the region’s annual volume with fresh mussel sales accounting for the remaining 20 percent. It’s this sector that has seen fluctuating market prices with current prices some 30 percent cheaper than two years ago. The processing and canning sector has seen prices revert to those of 2001, marking the worst crisis in the Galician mussel sector for the last 15 years.
29 August, 2012